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The Indiana Daily Student

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MCCSC teacher, staff bargaining agreements increase salaries, add leave policies 

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On Nov. 28, 2023, the Monroe County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved a MCCSC teachers’ collective bargaining agreement with the Monroe County Education Association, as well as agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and a salary recommendation for non-union support staff and administrators.  

Those agreements, which passed unanimously, went into effect Jan. 1. This year’s agreement added benefits related to parental leave and disability insurance, a lactation agreement and a salary grid change. 

“A good bargaining session is when both teams walk away a little mad,” Paul Farmer, MCEA president and MCCSC teacher, said. “I think it was a situation where we both won some and we both had to give in to some.”

This is the first time MCCSC will be providing paid parental leave. Any teacher becoming a new parent, regardless of gender or how the child is coming into their family, can use up to eight days of paid leave.  

Teachers will also now be covered by short-term disability insurance, providing them with $200 per week of missed work. This will replace the existing sick bank leave program, which stopped accepting new members Jan. 1 and will be phased out. Members who contributed leave days will be compensated. 

While lactation provisions already existed, MCCSC superintendent Jeff Hauswald said, this year’s agreement makes it contract-official. Teachers can receive paid break time and a private place to breastfeed under this accommodation. 

The agreement also clarifies how teachers can stack leave; they can’t take more than 365 total days off in a row unless it’s required by law. 

Salaries will change too, largely due to the 2022 MCCSC referendum. The board resolved to raise salaries immediately if it passed, Hauswald said, meaning salaries across the board were increased by $4,500 in line with the referendum’s guidelines. The school corporation will apply these raises retroactively to the 2023-24 contractual year, meaning teachers will receive $2,150 in two lump- sum payments. 

“We're just phenomenally blessed here in Monroe County, with the referendums that we've had,” Farmer said. “We have the funds to be able to do that (bargaining).” 

Erin Stalbaum, assistant superintendent of professional learning and certified human resources, highlighted wage increases from previous agreements in an emailed statement to the IDS.  

"A component of collective bargaining includes a comprehensive analysis of a budget." Stalbaum said via email. "In doing so, the MCCSC has been able to provide historically significant increases to wages and wage-related benefits with the ratification of the 2023-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement, including salary increases ranging from a minimum of $11,593 to a maximum increase of $17,750 for beginning teachers since the 2020-2021 school year. We are grateful to the community for the passing of the 2022 referendum, which has supported these historical salary increases." 

The teacher’s agreement was negotiated over about a month and a half. It’s a two-year contract, which Hauswald said at a Nov. 14 board meeting provides stability and foresight to employees, and it covers salary, wages and related benefits, meaning things like sick days and health insurance. 

The two-year AFSCME agreement includes a wage increase of $1.25 per hour for 2024 and $1 per hour for 2025 for all union employees and a short-term disability program for AFSCME employees, similar to the teacher’s program. It also changes and clarifies some language from the 2021 version. 

The MCEA’s salary and benefit goals were largely met. However, under Indiana Code 20-29-6, they couldn’t bargain for anything outside that, including calendars, dismissal procedures or anything not listed as a salary or wage benefit. For Farmer and the MCEA, this means there were things they wanted but couldn’t protect. 

As an example, Farmer mentioned the number of meetings per week. Teachers in Monroe County must receive at least 200 minutes, a little over three hours, of preparation time per week, according to Farmer, but that time can’t be protected under bargaining agreements. They may have required meetings during that preparation time, or before or after school, which means they must come in earlier or stay later to prepare. 

“Instead of teachers being able to get ready for school, they just have to come in earlier if they're trying to prep before their classes,” Farmer said. “Which is unfortunate, because for some, they'll start their morning at 7 a.m. and not get home until six or seven at night. A 10-hour day, that's a 50 hour work week, and that doesn't count the grading papers and preparing lessons and things like that.” 

Editor's note: This story was updated to include a statement from Erin Stalbaum, assistant superintendent of professional learning and certified human resources.

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